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Earl Russell: My Lords, when the Minister describes these Iraqis admitted on work permits, does it follow that, if they obey the actively seeking work rules as applied by the Department for Work and Pensions, and nevertheless fail to obtain work, they will be entitled to benefits in the ordinary way?
Lord Filkin: My Lords, that is a clear question to which the answer is clear; namely, that will be the case. However, we hope that that would apply to few of these people for two reasons: first, because we believe that most of them want to work here and there is still a reasonably buoyant labour market; and, secondly, clearly we do not wish taxpayers' money to be unnecessarily disbursed if that can be avoided.
Part 1, Chapter 2 covers the obtaining of evidence abroad. In the old days that was done by means of letters of request in which, many years ago, I became almost by inadvertence something of an expert. But it was always an inconvenient way of obtaining evidence abroad and was often protracted. Clause 7 seems to me to be a great improvement. Our courts will be able to apply direct to the foreign court which will take the evidence in question. It will no longer be necessary to go through the Foreign Office for that purpose as was necessary hitherto. That must be a good thing.
Clauses 13 to 15 contain the reciprocal measures to those in Clauses 7 to 9, but for some reason inward requests for evidence seem still to have to go through the Secretary of State. I am not sure why that should be. I am not sure that I altogether understand the explanation that has been provided in the Explanatory Notes. Perhaps when the Minister replies to the debate he will enlighten us a little further on that point.
I turn to the question of foreign surveillance operations under Clause 83. For some it may seem objectionable that foreign police officers should be able to conduct intrusive surveillance operations in the United Kingdom unaccompanied by a United Kingdom police officer or Customs officer. I well understand that, but there are two factors to remember: first, that the arrangement is reciprocal and we shall be able to do the same abroad; and, secondly, perhaps even more importantly, that Clause 83 is far from being open-ended. It allows surveillance in the United Kingdom only where the surveillance operation has already started abroad and then only for a short period of five hours while the foreign police officer is, in the language, in hot pursuit of the target. I agree with the Minister that those are proper safeguards. When one has regard to the appalling problems of international drug smuggling which are getting worse all the time, it seems to me that Clause 83 is a small price to pay if we are at least to hold our own against international criminals, let alone defeat them. Therefore, I support Clause 83.
Finally, I turn to the anti-terrorist provisions in Clauses 53 and 54. These clauses implement Article 9 of the Framework Decision of 13th June of this year so the Government have acted with commendable speed. What is to my mind far less commendable is the way in which these new provisions have been incorporated into existing legislation. The purpose of the new sections is to confer jurisdiction on our courts in the case of terrorist offences committed by or against British subjects overseas. The Framework Decision refers repeatedly to what it calls "terrorist offences". The problem is that the Terrorism Act 2000 contains no definition of "terrorist offences". That can now be seen to be a grave defect. Instead we now have the two long lists of offences set out in new Sections 63B and 63C and lists that are nearly but not quite the same tacked on to a provision about terrorist finance. I do not find that drafting satisfactory.
Chapter 6 of my report sets out the reasons why I thought that it would be desirable to have a definition of "terrorist offences" that could be included in the Terrorism Act. Soon after the Terrorism Bill was published I spent an hour with the then Home
If we are to have murder included among terrorist offences, surely it should not be tucked away, as it is, in new Sections 63A to E. It should be set out in resounding terms at the very outset, probably in new Section 2 immediately following the definitions of terrorist offences in new Section 1. The measure would then no doubt refer to a new schedule which could be brought up to date as new terrorist offences are proposed, as no doubt they will be as the years go by. That format is what I suggested in Chapter 6 and Appendix E of my report.
I beg the Minister to think again about the drafting of the new clauses. That would be quite easy to do and if it were proper to offer to do so, I should be very willing to offer my help. We have already missed a golden opportunity to include in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act a comprehensive definition of what we mean by "terrorist offences". I hope that we will not miss that opportunity for a second time.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, who raised some very pertinent points, particularly about the definition of "terrorism". I wait with some interest my noble friend's response to the rather important aspect that we are considering.
Like the noble and learned Lord, I share the view that it is desirable, not only from the point of view of the law but also from the point of view of restricting terrorist activities, that we should be much more emphatic than we are in dealing with this matter. The noble Baroness sought to sayI in no way impugn her motivesthat civil liberties should not be eroded. As my intervention suggested and notwithstanding her response, there is some doubt about the practices of our predecessors in that regard. We should do well to consider the bona fides of the previous government with regard to the establishment of civil liberties. I agree with her that the issue of civil liberties is very precious and that a balance has to be struck between civil liberties and the effective enforcement of the law. When there are doubts, I should err on the side of civil liberties.
It is wrong for us to entertain the view that somehow or other we have a monopoly in this country so far as that aspect of civil liberties is concerned. There are plenty of countries within the EU that are
Another important point is that there should be near certainty of apprehension so far as miscreants are concerned. On the whole, they are very inventive and we should be concerned about that. That point was effectively dealt with by my noble friend the Minister and that is underlined by Parts 1 and 2 and reinforced by Parts 3 and 4. It does not avail us at all to hope that all miscreants will be arrested. I believe that we have no alternative but to strengthen the current law. In an age of international crime, the response also has to be international. The EU is a very good starting point.
Police and judicial co-operation, as well as other relevant provisions of the Schengen agreement, are absolutely essential if the system is to work. That makes the Treaty of Amsterdam so important. However, we should be prepared to act with speed if holes in the law are discovered and flouted by the unscrupulous. I have my doubts about the speed of the changes that may be required from time to time. I should like to hear what my noble friend has to say about that. We currently have to wait for some two years before any changes in an enactment can be provided. That is not adequate when we consider the way in which international terrorists and others behave.
It should also be emphasised that national authorities should choose how and by which methods the enforcement of European Union law should be utilised. I am currently not totally convinced that they do that. I wait to hear from my noble friend on that issue.
All of this illustrates in a practical way the importance of the European dimension. We hope that this will be only a beginning and that an ever-wider reaction will be fashioned. Mutual assistance in criminal matters is of the utmost significance. For example, it is supported by the evidence-freezing provisions of the framework decision on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property and evidence. In that regard, the way in which the relevant authorities deal with locating bank accounts and give necessary information concerning criminal investigations, which can be provided by banking information, are of the utmost importance. The missing links in the current law are filled in by this proposed legislation so far as we can see.
The improvement of judicial co-operation is also absolutely vital in the fight against international crime. Judges are trained differently and behave differently in continental countries from our own and we do not take sufficient cognisance of that fact. I have never been a judge, unlike my noble and learned friend, but he recognises that that is in reality only a superficial difference.
We are dealing with all kinds of sophisticated criminals for whom frontiers are essentially irrelevant. Prosecuting authorities have to be at least one step ahead as I have already said. It may well be necessary to extend these provisions in the light of experience. At the moment, whether the threat comes from Al'Qaeda, or from any other source, many innocent people the world over feel threatened. I have no wish to be alarmist, as that plays into the hands of the terrorists, but we have to be prepared. In part this Bill answers that particular problem. We can never be wholly satisfied. We also have to be prepared to say that we were wrong, or that we have to alter the provisions of the law or that the law is inadequate.
In my view the Schengen convention and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 2000 are essential provisions for combating international crime, as revealed by my noble friend. The provisions that this House is now considering include hearing witnesses abroad through television links. Although that is partially covered at the moment, the Secretary of State is able to extend that to other types of criminal proceedings. What is of equal importance is that for the first time the courts can hear witnesses who may be abroad or here via television links. The same can be done by telephone.
This Bill is very wide. It covers all those issue that I have addressed and many others: banking transactions; accounts, in particular banking accounts; the transfer of prisoners to enable investigations to be assisted; terrorism, which is to be tackled much more effectively than at the moment; driving offences that are subject to disqualification orders and which are to be dealt with more vigorously on an international basis; and many other issues.
In my view it is right that prosecuting authorities should be more prepared than ever, on an international stage, to respond to the stratagems of criminals. This Bill goes a long way towards achieving that.
Lord Renton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, as each of them has enabled me to shorten my speech. They have both mentioned terrorism. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will not mind my referring to his comment that there is no definition of terrorism in our statute law. I suggest that terrorism covers a wide range of criminal offences that do not need to be redefined. If I understand the matter properly, terrorism is simply the motive behind the commission of criminal offences. There is such a wide variety of terrible motives that I believe it will be difficult to achieve a definition. I may be wrong, but we shall consider the matter in later proceedings on the Bill.
It seems to me that this Bill is obviously necessary, although it is unavoidably complicated. It is necessary for two main reasons: first, for dealing firmly with terrorism, as has been mentioned, and secondly, since the end of the Second World War, there has been a vast
The changes in the world, as mentioned by some noble Lords, are phenomenal and have occurred rapidly. Although I was born only 94 years ago, I have witnessed remarkable changes. Perhaps I may give an illustration. In 1913, when I was five years old, and had already come to love the seaside, my father drove my mother and me from north Kent to north Cornwall for a seaside holiday. There were few other cars on the road and once one got away from the towns and suburbs the roads were very rough. In that dry summer they threw up a lot of dust and when my father saw a cloud of dust ahead, my mother would say to him, "Hold back". At any event, he had promised my mother not to exceed 40 miles per hour! I am only blurting out the truth! That journey from north Kent to north Cornwall took us three days, but now we can fly around the world in three days thanks to the splendid passenger aircraft at our disposal. The movement of people has increased phenomenally.
My recollection is quite good. A week after the First World War started I was six years old and reasonably observant. I scarcely ever saw a foreigner or a coloured person in Kent, where I was brought up, nor in London. When my mother took me to London, there were hardly any taxis so we had to take cabs.
However, we have seen a vast change in the population, especially in the past 50 years. In January 1958, when all who were British subjects in what was formerly the British Empire and became the Commonwealth had a right to come and live here permanently, I became Under-Secretary at the Home Office with Mr R A Butler as the Home Secretary. He made me responsible for immigration control and for licensing asylum seekers, of whom there were very few. They caused no trouble. There were about 15 or 20 per year. But Commonwealth immigrants became so numerous that we had to diminish their right to come and stay here indefinitely.
In 1959, 21,000 immigrants came from the Commonwealth. In 1961, 136,000 came. So in 1962 we had to have the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, which deprived them of their right to live here but enabled many to come here for employment.
It is interesting to note in passing thatI hope this will amuse the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, for whom we have a high regardwhen we piloted that Bill, I was of course in another place, the Labour opposition opposed it strenuously and threatened to repeal it when they came to power. But when they did come to power they did not repeal it, I am glad to saythey strengthened it.
I return to the subject of terrorism. To my mind, the most urgent and important part of the Bill is Part 2, which, in Clauses 53 and 54, deals with terrorism and extends the definitions of terrorism and the offences created by it mentioned last year in the previous legislation. Clauses 53 and 54 will make the method of dealing with terrorism more effective.
Although the Government broadly deserve support on this Bill, I agree with those noble Lords and the noble and learned Lord who pointed out detailed matters which we must attempt to improve. My noble friend Lady Anelay was particularly justified in referring to the inadequacy of the order-making power. That must be dealt with; it is too loose. But we must also amend the Bill to ensure that, if police or other people from another country come here chasing criminals, they must inform our authorities, especially our police. That surely would not be difficult. Modern telephones, radio and so on will make it quite easy for foreign countries, for whom these people are acting, to give even advance notice if necessary. That must be done and the Bill should be amended, as my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns said.
Perhaps I may presume to say in conclusion that the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, has earned our confidence on several occasions. I wish him success in the piloting of this complicated, difficult and necessary Bill.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I have never been able to decide whether it is my eyes or my brain that causes me to read things with a slightly perverse view. When I picked up the Bill from the Printed Paper Office, I looked at the title page and thought, "Oh, heavens". I did not realise that the Government were in the business of promoting international crime.
That may be perverse, but it is a perfectly valid interpretation of the heading on the title page of the Bill. I do not think that the British Parliament should progress a Bill that has an ambiguous title on its face. I ask the Minister most sincerely to consider that. If it were a criminal investigation (international co-operation) Bill or even a crime prevention (international co-operation) Bill, that would be perfectly satisfactory. But, as written, this short title is in my view improper. I do not know what the procedure is for altering the short title of a Bill. There may not even be one. I am glad to assure the noble Lord that I am in fact reassured by the long title of the Bill, which is perfectly plain. But the long title of the Bill is not on the face page, and it is the face page that I am concerned about.
In the aftermath of the Mombassa disaster, preceded of course as it was by Bali, it is all too easy to think that we must go completely overboard in dealing with international crime. "Overboard" is a matter of
I have no difficulty with the definition of terrorism. I have always thought that the definition of terrorism was "any criminal act committed with a view to coercion". I wondered whether one should restrict that definition to political or religious coercion but, on the whole, I concluded that one should not. It is my viewand this is where the distinctions become blurredthat the actions of some small groups of young people which give rise to anti-social behaviour orders are a form of terrorism. In a sense, that is a diversion from the Bill, but it is an important part of the background.
If the purpose of the Bill were simply to apply the relevant parts of the Schengen agreement to British law, it would be very straightforward and much easier to deal with. But the Bill goes wider than that. It deals also with the Commonwealth and, indeed, in appropriate cases where appropriate treaties exist, with the rest of the world. In the definitions in Clause 52, the Minister is to be given powers to add countries. I assume that that power is restricted so that in fact it means countries that gain access to the Schengen agreement by joining the European Union. If it means anything wider than that, to give a Minister power to include countries in such a procedure is too radical for us to accept. I hope that, when he replies, the Minister can give me the assurance that I seek.
The other aspect of the Bill that interests me is the mutual provision of information. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, made the point that that is a two-way process; I must say that it is highly desirable. But I am not sure from reading the Bill at what point that mutual transfer of information may take place. My concern is whether it is when a criminal has been identified and charged with a crime and the international authorities are looking for corroborating evidence. Is it when a crime has been committed and we know what the crime is but do not have the remotest idea who has committed it, and so we are looking for evidence that may lead to the identification of a criminal? Orthis has caused concern with respect to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000will foreign groups working in the field of criminal justice be able to come on a fishing trip?
So the question of when the Bill kicks in is important. If it is when we are dealing with an identified criminal, there is no question but that that is appropriate. It may also be appropriate in the case of an identified crime, but that is more doubtful. Fishing trips should be completely ruled out. That point is not sufficiently clearly defined in the Bill.
I support the Bill's general principles. Obviously, we shall have to see it through Grand Committee, which will be an interesting procedurealthough I have observed it before. It has always seemed to me that when a Bill is committed to a Grand Committee, the Committee should have the right to ask for a day on the Floor of the House if parts of the Bill are shown to be controversial so that we do not have only Report and Third Reading to deal with controversial parts of a Bill. Unfortunately, I could not make that point when the Procedure Committee's report was dealt with by the House in July as I was then flat on my back in hospital. I wonder whether that is possible. Again, perhaps the Minister can tell me about that when he replies.